Darkly (Follow Me #4) by Helen Hardt

Chapter One

            Addison Ames hates coffee.

            I don’t think about Addison Ames much anymore, but sometimes the past inevitably collides with the present—like when I check my Instagram, which also doesn’t happen often.

            I have no idea how many followers—other than it’s in the millions—I have on my Instagram, which is run by my social media team for the most part. Me? I don’t have time for social media, but the team insists I post every couple of days, and that it has to come from me, to make it personal.

            I’m not sure why anyone gives a damn what I’m doing, but apparently Boston’s Blue Collar Billionaire is everyone’s business.

            I’m a private person by nature, so posing in front of a camera and a team of photographers isn’t on my to-do list, either, but I complied, resulting in a spread in GQ magazine that I’d prefer to forget. Apparently it matters what I look like in skivvies.

            Apparently it matters to a lot of people.

            And so does social media.

            So no matter how much I hate it, I post on Instagram once a week. My phone is set up to remind me, so when it buzzes this morning with the dreaded admonition, I pull up my account.

            And I see Addison Ames’s fake smile as she holds up a cup of some hipster drink from a new place called Bean There Done That.

            Hanging out at the new Bean There Done That coffee shop in downtown Boston. The cinnamon mocha latte is to die for! @beantheredonethat #sponsored #coffeeisdope #coffeeaddict #coffee #latte #beantheredonethat

            Coffee is dope? Really?

            She reviles the stuff. I should know. We have a…history.

            That history I try not to dwell on.

            Normally I ignore her, but for some reason, the post triggers me. Maybe it’s because I just got off a heated phone call with a supplier overseas. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had sex since Aretha and I parted ways. Maybe it’s because I haven’t visited my club in New York for a while.

            Or maybe I’m just sick and tired of all the fakeness in the world, and I detest my part in it.

            Addie already has hundreds of comments and thousands of likes for a post that only went live fifteen minutes ago.

            You rock, Addison! #luvyourface

            Love me some cinnamon mocha latte! Love your lip gloss. What’s the brand?

            Bean There is the greatest! #whoneedsstarbucks You and I both love cinnamon mocha lattes!

            Love you, @realaddisonames!

            More and more of the same.

            Before I even realize it consciously, I’m typing a comment. I push Send.

            Nice try, @realaddisonames. Coffee makes you puke. I should know. #youreafake

            I instantly regret it, because snideness isn’t my style. The past is the past, and to be honest, part of me admires Addison Ames. She’s making a cushy living as an Instagram influencer with millions of followers. She’s a hotel heiress, but she’s not living off Daddy’s money. Or maybe she is, but she’s at least contributing to her own expenses.

            Yeah, I should delete the comment. I swipe my finger over it, and the red trash can appears. I hover then, my thoughts hurling back through time…

            I don’t delete it.

            I’ll never forget her part in what ultimately happened all those years ago, so all admiration aside, I can’t let her off the hook. Not this time. I just won’t lower myself to her level again.